Kent enters, disguised, and announces himself as such so the audience knows who he is. Then Lear and his knights come in. (We are to imagine a riotous crowd, or the production will have a riotous crowd.) He espies Kent and after a sequence of questions about who he is and what he wants, all given in a rather jocular style, he agrees to have Kent serve him. Lear calls for his Fool, a court jester, but Oswald appears instead. Lear orders him to fetch Goneril. He leaves, but Lear calls him back. He gets a message that Goneril is ill, and then a suggestion from one of his knights that they are not being treated as they should be. Lear agrees to a “faint neglect” but blames himself rather than purposeful unkindness. He sends for Goneril. But Oswald reappears instead. Lear greets him with crude vituperations, then strikes him when Oswald protests mildly, after which Kent trips him, earning Lear’s praise and a tip.
ACT I. SCENE IV. SEGMENT A. A hall in the Albany’s palace.
Enter Kent [disguised]
If but as well I other accents borrow
That can my speech defuse, my good intent
May carry through itself to that full issue
For which I razed my likeness. Now, banished Kent,
If thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemned, 
So may it come thy master whom thou lovest
Shall find thee full of labors.
Horns within. Enter Lear and Attendents
Let me not stay a jot for dinner. Go get it ready. [exit a knight.]
How now, what art thou?
KENT A man, sir. 
KING LEAR What dost thou profess? What wouldst thou with us?
I do profess to be no less than I seem: to serve
him truly that will put me in trust, to love him
that is honest, to converse with him that is wise,
and says little, to fear judgment, to fight when I 
cannot choose, and to eat no fish.
KING LEAR What art thou?
KENT A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the King.
If thou be’st as poor for a subject as he’s for a
king, thou art poor enough. What wouldst thou? 
KING LEAR Who wouldst thou serve?
KING LEAR Dost thou know me, fellow?
No, sir. But you have that in your countenance 
which I would fain call master.
KING LEAR What’s that?
KING LEAR What services canst thou do?
I can keep honest counsel, ride, run, mar a curious 
tale in telling it, and deliver a plain message
bluntly. That which ordinary men are fit for, I am
qualified in, and the best of me is diligence.
KING LEAR How old art thou?
Not so young, sir, to love a woman for singing, nor 
so old to dote on her for anything. I have years
on my back forty-eight.
Follow me. Thou shalt serve me. If I like thee no
worse after dinner, I will not part from thee yet.
Dinner, ho, dinner! Where’s my knave, my fool? 
Go you, and call my fool hither. Enter Steward
You, you, sirrah, where’s my daughter?
OSWALD So please you— Exit
What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll back.
Where’s my fool? Ho, I think the world’s asleep. 
How now, where’s that mongrel?
Knight He says, my lord, your daughter is not well.
KING LEAR Why came not the slave back to me when I called him?
Knight Sir, he answered me in the roundest manner he would not.
KING LEAR He would not? 
My lord, I know not what the matter is, but to my judgment, your
highness is not entertained with that ceremonious affection as you
were wont. There’s a great abatement of kindness appears as well
in the general dependants as in the Duke himself also, and your daughter.
KING LEAR Ha! Sayest thou so? 
I beseech you pardon me my lord, if I be mistaken, for my duty
cannot be silent when I think your highness wronged.
Thou but rememberest me of mine own conception. I have
perceived a most faint neglect of late, which I have rather
blamed as mine own jealous curiosity than as a very pretense 
and purpose of unkindness. I will look further into’t.
But where’s my fool? I have not seen him this two days.
Since my young lady’s going into France, sir, the
fool hath much pined away.
No more of that. I have noted it well. Go you, 
and tell my daughter I would speak with her.
Go you, call hither my fool. Enter Steward.
O, you sir, you, come you hither, sir. Who am I, sir?
OSWALD My lady’s father.
KING LEAR My lady’s father? My lord’s knave, you 
whoreson dog, you slave, you cur!
OSWALD I am none of these, my lord. I beseech your pardon.
KING LEAR Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?
OSWALD I’ll not be strucken, my lord.
KENT Nor tripped neither, you base football player. 
KING LEAR I thank thee, fellow. Thou servest me, and I’ll love thee.
Come, sir, arise, away. I’ll teach you differences. Away, away. If
you will measure your lubber’s length again, tarry. But away. Go to.
Have you wisdom? So. [Pushes Oswald out]
Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee. There’s earnest of thy service.